Can you believe it? What a house of cards? Talk about fiscal irresponsibility…the RMA actually voted to consider selling bonds in order to pay -off their ILLEGAL LOAN from the City. To his credit, Lyle Larson’s appointee to the Board, Bob Thompson, said the CDA process is delaying the traditional design/build process TxDOT could put in place, toll-free. He also asked them to assign a cost to the delay this protracted public-private partnership contract negotiation is costing the County and tens of thousands of motorists as well as businesses in the 281 corridor. However, no one listened to him or responsded…in his usual railroad fashion, Chair Bill Thornton, just plowed through the meeting calling for and passing votes faster than you can blink.
I found it interesting that Leon Valley Councilman Hubert Lange attended the meeting (the first time any representative of Leon Valley has been in attendance) and asked for the elevated, limited access corridor to be added to Bandera Rd. at the earliest possible date whether it’s tolled or not, he thought it would be great! Ask the folks of Leon Valley if they think a bypass highway will serve their community and the local businesses “just great.” Their Mayor, Chris Riley, doesn’t agree with Lange’s assessment.
Here’s the list of the companies in attendance who are obviously seeking to profit from the toll roads that will empty our pockets for private gain:
HNTB (transportation-engineering firm)
LEIHMAN BROTHERS (Investment Banking)
POPULAR SECURITIES (Investment Banking)
CITI GROUP (Finance/Investment Banking)
ESTRADA HINOJOSA (Investment Bankers)
R.J. RIVERA (Transportation-engineering firm)
Loeffler, Tuggey, Pauerstein, Rosenthal (or LTPR) Law Firm (Senator Jeff Wentworth is an attorney there)
LOCKE, LIDDELL, & SAAP Law Firm (up to their necks representing the “distinguished” highway lobby eager to stick it to the taxpayers)
Here’s the text of my statement to the Alamo Regional Mobility Authority (tolling authority) Wednesday, March 8, 2006 –
We come before you VICTORS today. The Toll Party scored two MAJOR upset victories unseating two toller incumbents, Karen Sonleitner in Travis County and Carter Casteel, MY State Rep who I put on notice when she refused to stop this toll nightmare. The winds of change are a blowin’ and our politicians who are more interested in representing special interests rather than the public good are going to one by one be removed from office! Governor Perry being the top of the list.
There are issues surrounding the competitive bidding process on the CDA for 281/1604. Cintra and Macquarie are being billed as two competitive bidders when they are partners on projects around the world and in the U.S. I’ll name them: Madrid, Ontario, Indiana, Illinois, here in Texas for the TTC I-35 project, and now they’re pretending to bid as separate entities in name only when the public can see full well that they’re partners!
There are also concerns about HNTB being hired by TXDOT to conduct a new “independent” environmental assessment for 281 when this Board has hired them to do the preliminary engineering of the toll roads all over town to the tune of $6.5 million in taxpayer money.
We met with HNTB yesterday and mentioned some very important aspects being overlooked here. NAFTA /CAFTA traffic was stated as justification for toll roads on I-35 by the Bexar County delegation at the Transportation Commission Meeting February 23, 2006, yet the Governor’s brainchild, the Trans Texas Corridor, has been promoted as the priority corridor to relieve truck and commercial traffic from I-35. So which is it? You can’t have it both ways!
Also, why isn’t the federal government being asked to foot the bill for this trade route? Why should Texans, especially San Antonio whose median income is near the bottom of the barrel for the top 50 U.S. cities, bear the sole burden of our Nation’s commerce? Texas is a donor state and continues to send more of our gas tax dollars to Washington than we get back. Not only should we receive back what we pay in, it’s arguably justified that Texas should receive even more than we pay into the system due to our geography being the natural gateway from Mexico on up into Canada and the conduit for much of the Nation’s trade. You seem to be looking everywhere for money, look no further than last year’s highway bill with 6,000 earmarks for congressional pet projects!
None of this escapes our notice and this continues to constitute the wholesale railroading of ONE agenda down the throats of taxpayers in this state. Rest assured these issues will be addressed. This Board needs to reconsider its meeting location. We were told last December that come April, the meeting location would change to the US 281/ Thousand Oaks area. Then you pull yet another bait & switch and say the Board meetings will remain at Kelly through the end of the year…the furthest possible location from those most affected by the toll plans. Are you going to change that? Will you answer the question or speak to any of these issues?
No one answered.